Repost: To a conference in baby-attachmode

Yesterday, Potnia Theron wrote about why it is so important to go to meetings to hear new ideas and stay creative. In response, Christina Pikas wrote how incredibly difficult and expensive this is when you have children. I couldn't agree more after not having gone to meetings (other than our local neuroscience meeting) in the past two years because of being pregnant and having small children. There's only so many options: take your kid(s) to a meeting means either bringing enough support so that you can still go to social events in the evenings (which is expensive), or not going to social events which takes away most of the usefulness of going to a meeting, or being able to leave your kid(s) at home, which has its own challenges (ask my husband about not sleeping for a couple nights the first time I left without 15 month old BlueEyes to go ta a conference...). That's why I thought it would be fitting to repost my second blog post ever, about going to a conference with a small baby:


Last year’s society for Neuroscience meeting was right when I went back to work after my maternity leave. And since I had patched a whole bunch of cells while very pregnant, I even had something to present there. The meeting was right around the corner from where I live, which is why I decided that even though BlueEyes was only 4 months old, the whole family was going to the meeting (and in this case, with meeting I mean the actual science-part, and not so much the social and drinking part). So on Saturday and Sunday I put BlueEyes in a baby wrap (Girasol Chococabana for those of you interested), and walked around the conference.

SfN turned out to be very baby-friendly, since they even had a specific room for infant care, where you could nurse and change your baby. The only disadvantage was that this was kind of far away from the poster hall, so after I had checked out a poster or two I had to walk back there to nurse a hungry baby or change a diaper. Oh well, most people walk around the poster hall to meet people they know instead of actually look at the posters anyway, right? A major unexpected disadvantage was that when you show up at someone’s poster with a baby attached to you, they automatically assume that you’ve come to show your cute baby instead of ask a serious science question. So not much science talk for me that weekend…

On Monday BlueEyes went to his usual daycare, and I traded the baby-in-wrap for my breast pump. This was potentially even bulkier and certainly more annoying to drag around all day. The same sort of thing as before happened where I would check out a bunch of posters (at least now I got to ask science-questions and have people answer them), and then have to walk back to the infant care room to pump milk. And after I presented my own poster I realized that whoever thought of four hour poster sessions had probably never lactated him- or herself….

A last thing to note is that the night after we took BlueEyes to SfN, he had his longest night sleep so far (a 6 hour stretch of sleep!). And mind you, this was in November... So I guess nothing puts our baby to sleep like a couple 1000 neuroscience posters!

3 responses so far

  • M says:

    I brought my 3-month old baby (and my husband - also a colleague) to a major program review. My husband held the baby most of the time when we were in public (I spent some of the time with her in the hotel room while she napped), which I thought was a good demonstration of dad being actively involved in fathering new baby, etc, and the program officer got to see her/meet her (I'm sure prior to this he had no idea I had had a baby). The good news is that my talk was very well received AND I applied for additional funding from this agency prior to the baby news, which was still being decided on at the time of the review, and I got it. I like to think of this as a small victory for feminism :).

  • Christina Pikas says:

    Sorry just noticing this now- I'm forever amazed at how much better male-dominated professions do than female dominated ones at supporting mothers. The SfN set up sounds pretty sweet, actually. ASIST did find me a place to pump but I think both SLA and ALA have rules against anyone under 18 even being on the conference floor.
    fwiw: last name is Pikas - LIS stands for Library & Information Science 🙂

    • babyattachmode says:

      Oops sorry, changed your name now!
      And yes, I do really appreciate how most of the conferences I go to try to be welcoming to families. But even then it's expensive and quite a hassle to bring your kid(s).

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